So this week got off to a pretty rocky start, with my work in the physical therapy unit. It was very busy and crowded, and many people were trying to get me here and there and doing this and that in a language which I still speak and understand at a very basic level. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through, but after a great rest of the week, I am getting more and more comfortable living in a developing country. (In photo: In the field with a sugar cane worker)
I got a chance to see many AIDS patients and try to get more of an insight into what it is to live with this disease in a country that tends to be very discriminatory against it. We see some people who are doing much better with it, but others who feel as though they almost have nothing left to live for, which makes it very hard trying to instill hope in them.
I think I have gained a lot from seeing those patients alone, and it’s just one more thing that makes me appreciate the life I have been given and the opportunities that are so available.
On a much lighter note, I got the chance to go out into one of the surrounding towns and help a mission group that was visiting from Virginia paint a small school, which was an extension off a church that this same group built last year. I really enjoyed a chance to go out into the community and see the joy that so many Dominicans have despite having so few possessions – but they do have their families and love for each other. (In photo: With my painting helpers)
To cap off the week, a volunteer who is working through the same organization, Esperanze International, but living in a different part of the country had her parents come into town. She invited me to stay at a resort and get a taste of air-conditioning and more American food, and it was cherished greatly. We experienced some of the crystal clear water of a part of the Caribbean that hasn’t been affected by the oil spill with some snorkeling and a lot of beach time! (In photo, taken with my underwater camera: snorkeling!)
I’m looking forward to this coming week, when I will be doing some home visits with the medical teams to treat patients who are too sick or don’t have the money to pay for the 40 peso bus ride (about a dollar) to the clinic. I am expecting that to tug on the heart quite a bit, but rewarding at the same time to see the care these doctors, nurses and “Health Promotors” have for the people of their country – something I certainly hope to bring back with me to the States.
Hopefully I will have a lot to report on this week to give you students of SMU more of a look at life down here in the Dominican Republic!